Brexit tops National Farmers Union president’s agenda

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

New farmers’ union president focuses on Brexit

Related tags: United kingdom

Calls to “turbocharge the Red Tractor” and grow “Brand Britain” as it prepares to leave the EU have been issued by newly-elected National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters.

Speaking at her first official engagement on Monday (26 February), Batters called on government to "help put British farming on the global map in a new dawn for the countryside".

She said: “Today, I am calling on the whole of government to help us put Britain on the global map when it comes to farming. I want to be involved in Brexit trade negotiations, and for farming to be the first to take its place in this new buyers' market. For far too long we have come too far down the list.

“However, we must not turn our back on the EU market, it remains crucial for British farmers, with 40% of our lamb, 80% of our dairy exports and 75% of our wheat and barley exports currently going into Europe. It is vital we have zero-tariff, frictionless trade with the EU marketplace.”

Batters suggested putting previous sentiment aside in the interest of moving forward. “As a sector, some may have accused us of being too negative when it comes to Brexit, and that we only highlighted the problems. There are great challenges ahead but we now need to pull together and make Brexit work for Britain.”

Standards

She also pushed home the need for government to “recognise good quality, traceable and affordable food as a public good”​.

“We know the British people expect high animal welfare standards, responsible environmental stewardship and good quality, traceable and affordable food,”​ said Batters. “Our own UK market has demanded ever greater food safety regulation and as farmers and growers we've risen to that challenge. That's why we believe that the food we produce is a public good.

“Good quality, safe and traceable food is a public right and above all else a necessity for each and every one of us. I want British farming to be the food producer of choice for every British citizen, no matter who they are, where they live and regardless of their income.

“More than that British people should want to shout loudly and with pride about the food we as an island nation produce.”

Education

Batters also highlighted the tough task ahead on educating the population on food production. “We take education very seriously and have appointed an in-house lead on the matter. Food production should be a core part of school curriculum to help the public value the food produced in this country.”

Batters laid out the four themes for her vision for a new agricultural policy that she believes will “be good for Britain's balance sheet, the public and the rural economy”.

Batters’ four themes

  • A vision for working with Government and other stakeholders to ensure British farming becomes the envy of the world;
  • A vision that will see British farmers enhance the natural environment, and improve our soil health, protecting our iconic countryside;
  • A vision that will feed even more families in every part of Britain with safe, high quality and affordable food, driving productivity and innovation across the sector; and
  • A vision that will see us champion British farming at home, in Europe and throughout the globe.

Related topics: Supply Chain

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